Be the BBQ Master Without Poisoning Your Guests

Friends at a bbq

Be the BBQ Master Without Poisoning Your Guests

Relaxing at a barbecue with family and friends is great fun, but without care, it can also be a recipe for disaster.  Improperly stored or prepared food can turn that happy event into a dangerous or even deadly episode.

Did you know that leaving your food out at room temperature for too long before or after cooking can lead to foodborne illness? The last thing you would want as a BBQ Master protégé is a viral TikTok of your guests lying sick on the bathroom floor.  You want your food images to go viral, not your sickness-inducing superpowers!

Food poisoning is technically not what usually happens when a barbecue goes bad. In most cases, people suffer from a foodborne infection which results when harmful bacteria are ingested. This leads to symptoms such as stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

Foodborne illness is fairly common. 4 million Canadians get sick each year from contaminated food. That’s 1 out of 8 people according to the Government of Canada.

The good news is there are some simple Food Safety precautions you can take to ensure everyone goes home happy and healthy.

The first step is starting with quality ingredients. Before putting any food into your shopping cart, always check to ensure that the products are in good condition. Make sure that all packages are sealed and damage-free.

When looking for quality meat, it’s wise to purchase from a reputable seller and to check for government inspection tags or stamps. When it comes to frozen food, avoid items that show signs of thawing or refreezing.  For more tips on buying meat, check out ‘What to Look for When Buying Meat‘ from the Food Network.

Meats are not our only concern when shopping. Most barbecues feature salads and other items that can also be a source of foodborne illness. Check the fruits and vegetables carefully to avoid bruised, wilting or damaged items.

Once you get your food home, storage and preparation must be handled with care to avoid the growth and spread of harmful bacteria.

  • Ensure that meat products are stored in clean, sanitized, and sealed food grade containers. They should be stored on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. This way, raw juices won’t drip and contaminate your produce and other ready-to-eat foods.
  • When preparing and serving your meal, keep these tips in mind. You can’t let meat sit out for longer than 2 hours – raw or cooked! Most foodborne illness is due to neglect in time and temperature. Bacteria thrive in warm environments which includes room temperature. Thawing meat on the counter and leaving the marinated meat outside the fridge invites the growth of bacteria and is an extremely dangerous practice.
  • If you are still using one cutting board for everything, chances are you are still using Windows XP; in both cases it’s time for change! Always use a separate cutting board for fresh produce and another one for raw meats. Similarly, don’t use the same utensils for raw meat as you do for cooked and ready to eat foods! This includes BBQing tools. The raw meat tongs should not handle the cooked meat.
  • Cook all foods to their safe internal temperature. Be aware that an accurate food thermometer is the only option when it comes to cooking food safely.
  • Lastly, to be a BBQ Master, it starts with YOU. Food Safety starts before you enter the kitchen. Everything about you, your surroundings, and the tools you use must be clean and sanitized. Food Safety mistakes are avoidable if you understand what can contaminate your food and potentially make your guests sick!

Gathering with friends and family and finding the perfect BBQ recipe sounds like a great plan; but, without Food Safety measures in place, it could lead to illness or even death!  Be mindful of Food Safety during all the steps of food handling including purchasing, storing, preparing, and keeping everything clean before firing up the grill.

If you want to learn more about Food Safety Training, check out our free training demo for our industry leading comprehensive Food Handler Training and Certificate course!